How to avoid possible social discrepancies due to limited access to the "aging elixir"?
Antonio CarusilloSep 30, 2020
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Is the problem still unsolved?
Is it concisely described?
As a scientist, I am much more interested in the discovery and understanding of new mechanisms underlying complex processes. When I think about ageing, there is a lot we do not know yet, but still, enormous progress has been done and recently we have also seen possible solutions that offer the possibility to reverse ageing in a near feature.
Such a cure to ageing may expect to be as marvellous as expensive. Thus, a question that arises is who will benefit from it? If we put it in perspective, the novel gene and cell therapies CAR-T cell therapy cost of a single infusion, in the USA, is for YesCarta around $373,000 while Kymiriah is sold at $475,000. So how much a company/ hospital may ask a person in order to prolong his/her life? People may willing to pay an insane amount of money to be able to live longer and longer. But not everybody will be able to do it.
So, from an ethical point of view how we may avoid increasing the already existing social discrepancy? How do we avoid a future like the one depicted in the film In Time was in the long run only the rich will leave forever? Will we, for example, wait until the "long-life elixir" will be affordable to everyone? For example by improving its formulation, shortening the time for its preparation and so on. And if this won´t be possible will we neglect the "elixir" to everyone? Such ethical questions pose the old fashioned question: we may do it, but should we?
 Reversal of ageing- and injury-induced vision loss by Tet-dependent epigenetic reprogramming
Yuancheng Lu, Anitha Krishnan, Benedikt Brommer, Xiao Tian, Margarita Meer, Daniel L. Vera, Chen Wang, Qiurui Zeng, Doudou Yu, Michael S. Bonkowski, Jae-Hyun Yang, Emma M. Hoffmann, Songlin Zhou, Ekaterina Korobkina, Noah Davidsohn, Michael B. Schultz, Karolina Chwalek, Luis A. Rajman, George M. Church, Konrad Hochedlinger, Vadim N. Gladyshev, Steve Horvath, Meredith S. Gregory-Ksander, Bruce R. Ksander, Zhigang He, David A. Sinclair
bioRxiv 710210; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/710210
Although it varies by country, healthcare is generally expensive. When it comes to more specific therapies, prices become unreachable for most of us, as you already mentioned. I think that´s greatly unfair, but companies invest money in research and development and that´s how business works.
Is "pay or die" the only option we have?
In science, we have many problems we try to solve. Each one of them can be viewed from different perspectives, which consequently leads to the development of multiple solutions for one problem. For example, people who are diagnosed with melanoma and are being treated in an unnamed clinic will pay up to 30,000$ per injection . At the same time, if youngsters are being notified in a timely manner about the risks and prevention methods, they can stop exposing the unprotected skin to the harmful UVA and UVB radiation and lower the hours spent on the direct sun and thus, prevent the melanoma.
What I wanted to say is that although the prices of the drugs are becoming really expensive (in favor of pharmaceutical companies), hospitals and non-governmental organizations should promote a healthier lifestyle in order to prevent the preventable diseases. Eating healthy, not smoking, protecting the skin from sunlight, reduce the stress and others are cheaper alternatives to extremely expensive therapies.
I think we should try it because research costs and time increase and have no intention to stop.